Mokala National Park
We had a few days off in a row and decided that, as usual, we wanted to spend them in the bush. As the destination finder extraordinaire for Afrishots, it was my responsibility to decide on a destination. We are trying to get to as many parks/reserves in and around South Africa as possible, hence this trip had to be to somewhere we hadn’t been before. After many hours of researching, I decided on Mokala National Park. Daryl approved – as usual.
Mokala National Park is part of SANParks and is situated in the Northern Cape, 80km SW of Kimberley, South Africa.
After asking around, we decided not to travel on the N12 (Potchefstroom) route as there were road works in progress with many Stop&Go’s. We left at about 4am and head for the N1 Bloemfontein. At Bloem, we joined the N8 and decided not to continue on it for too long but to go the back way (R48, R705 – the roads were in excellent condition) – and I’m so glad we did.
It turns out, there is life in the middle of nowhere. We were running slightly low on fuel and weren’t sure where we’d find any near the park so we decided to search for a ‘dorpie’ (translated to ‘small town’) with a petrol station. Luck was definitely on our side that day (not stopping for long at the stop and go’s, very little traffic) and soon after our search began, it ended: Jacobsdal. It is the epitome of a small town – Church in the town centre on the main street, a post office, a park, one Spar, the ever-reliable Petrol Station (actually just a pump or two) , and not much else. We filled up the tank, luckily, as there were no more petrol stations along the way and were in Mokala in less than an hour. The one person we did see in Jacobsdal was very friendly (petrol attendant), if there are any other inhabitants – I’m sure they are too.
On arrival at the park gate (about 11am), you speak to reception through an intercom providing them with your details. The gate is opened remotely and there is a 6km drive to the reception (we entered at the Southern gate – best if you’re staying in Mosu Lodge).
At reception we were given the usual brief, signed documents and advised when the game drives were. We then went to our rooms with all our luggage on a luggage cart, which was a huge relief for us, with all our photographic equipment as well as all our goods for the self-catering getaway.
We were very pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the ‘Luxury Bungalow’. The open plan room was large and spacious and included a kitchen, bedroom, lounge (with fireplace) as well as a dressing table, wardrobe, full length mirror and LCD TV (which we did not use). The kitchen was fully stocked with everything we needed (only thing they didn’t give us was food), including a built in oven & hob. The bathroom was full ensuite with a huge shower! Very impressive indeed.
The outside of the bungalow was where we spent most of our time (when not driving around the park) as it over looked a very active watering hole (which is lit at night). There is a thatched gazebo outside the bungalow with a table and chairs and a fixed braai stand. We definitely had golden tickets to the waterhole, fantastic spot!
Mosu Lodge is surrounded by a 0.5m electrified fence to protect guests from any dangerous game i.e. Buffalo and Rhino. The fence was a mere 10m from our braai area which adds to the feeling of being completely surrounded by the wild. We had buffalo grazing next to the fence on both nights of our stay. There is something truly scary/amazing about having this giant animal (prone to violent out bursts) just a few metres away from you on foot – I think exhilarating is the appropriate feeling.
As this is a self-drive park, you are allowed to spend the day driving around at your leisure , which is what we did for most of our stay. The park has 2 of the Big 5, namely Buffalo & Both species of Rhino, but this does not mean there isn’t anything to see. Mokala NP is used as a ‘breeding place’ for endangered species.
There is an abundance of wildlife in the park and we were very privileged to see some of the less popular and more endangered species such as Gemsbok (Oryx), Tsessebe and Roan Antelope.
We had a few first time sightings on this trip: Yellow Mongoose, Black & Copper Springbok, Meerkat (in the wild), Black Wildebeest & Roan Antelope.
On our last day in the park, we decided to exit the park via the Northern gate. On our drive we saw very little game and decided that we definitely prefer the Southern part of the park and would be staying at Mosu again on our return.
Mokala is a young National Park (opened in 2007) and has still got areas of improvement such as a slightly larger road network, however, it is well worth the visit. It is quite a long drive from Johannesburg for only 2 nights, but we felt it was worth the while. The accommodation was fantastic, the staff were all very friendly and we got some decent photographs out of the trip!